Official photographic portrait of US President...

President Barack Obama (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts,...

Mitt Romney (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the really interesting things about this US election is that the Democrat convention follows directly on the back of the Republican one, which is unusual in modern times.

That’s because the standing bounce – or increase – expected in a party’s support after a party convention is about 5%.

And in order to be competitive in November, Romney really needs that bounce. Whilst there has been some small movement towards the GOP in recent weeks (which frankly is more reflective of a generalised disinterest in either candidate or party), he is a man badly in need of the “Big Mo”.

To win, he has to look like a winner, or at very least, a real contender.

Why? Simply because it’s a well known fact that, in America as elsewhere, people like to vote on the winning side. Enough people want to be part of the winning tribe that they can tip a close election decisively one way or the other.

That’s why pro-GOP outlets like Fox News constantly talk up Romney’s chances. They need to convince people he has them. Sadly for them and the GOP, they are largely singing to their own choir.

Shoring up votes you already have may feel good, but ultimately it’s largely pointless. What matters is what the relatively few (certainly less than 10%, nearer 4-6%) of uncommitted or undecided voters think.

That’s why the convention bounce is important, especially as the GOP are already predicting that Obama will wipe the floor with Romney in the debates – so that when he does, as is likely, the negative impact of their candidate looking wooden and uninformed is lessened.

Republican convention audience

Not exactly a critical audience, really. White, middle class, committed. Talking to the whole country is more tricky.

A convention gives a candidate a chance to present his case unchallenged by any embarrassing contradiction. So if you can’t get a bounce from the TV viewing audience when everyone in the hall is supposed to love you to bits before you even say “Hello”, you’re in real trouble.

The proximity of the Democrat convention in the key swing state of North Carolina, coming right on the heels of the Republican gabfest, and wielding their biggest vote catcher – which is Obama’s ability as a public orator, and his essential likeability – may well blunt Romney’s much-needed boost in support. The water-cooler attention will swing more rapidly than usually to the Presidential incumbent, reducing the required froth and bubble chatter about the GOP. And in modern politics, invisibility is death.

It also doesn’t help that the most talked about event at the Republican convention became a tired old actor chatting to an empty chair.

It’s not that Romney is unpopular with his own Republican supporters – which he he is – they think he’s not conservative enough, not radical right enough, not Christian enough, not middle class enough, not exciting enough – but that doesn’t really matter because Republicans have reluctantly decided to back him as their best and only hope after an execrable, dragged out selection process. They will hold their nose and vote for him because they detest Obama.

What matters is that without a swing to him of about 5% coming essentially from the political centre then Romney will never get to where he needs to be in key swing states like Ohio, NC, and elsewhere.

It has become popular amongst the chattering commentariat to average opinion polls over a period of time to arrive at a rolling view of where the electorate is at.

This can be helpful in portraying trends, but is less useful as a snapshot, as voter opinion can change rapidly.

Wellthisiswhatithink has been noticing a small move towards the Republicans as Romney’s name recognition and prime time coverage has grown, and as people focus a little more on the imminence of the poll. And as rolling “averaging” polls drop off individual polls taken approximately a month ago (when Obama had just enjoyed a small bump upwards) – and as there must be some sort of bounce during the Republican convention itself last week – then I expect to see a small increase in the GOP’s position in rolling polls released over the next few days.

Two rolling polls released today show the candidates essentially neck and neck, certainly within the margin of error, one going for Romney by three points, one for Obama by a point. I expect to see more of those coming out towards the end of this week and showing Romney with a small lead, and the GOP will frantically do all they can to solidify that impression as a counter to the coverage of the DNC.

However, bounces can be illusory.

There’s a special sort of bounce. It’s usually applied to expectations of economic recovery that look overly optimistic. It’s also applied to political hopefuls.

Falling cat

“I don’t have a good feeling about this. How many lives was that again?”

It’s called a “dead cat bounce”. That’s the extent to which a cat, thrown off a roof, will bounce on hitting the ground head first.

The answer is, of course, even under the most propitious circumstances, not much.

That’s what I expect for Mitt Romney from the GOP convention. A dead cat bounce. The polls we should really keep our eyes on are the polls, especially the rolling polls, released about 7-14 days from today, say anytime from around 14th September onwards. In a world where the electorate has the attention span of a gnat, these will then factor in not only Obama’s expected professional performance in Charlotte – and, critically, Bill Clinton’s performance, still by some distance the most popular politician in America – but also the general froth and bubble that will swell up and about the DNC, which, unlike the RNC, will probably have little hard political news distracting from it.

I expect Obama to move into the lead – consistently – by mid-September, and I expect him to stay there. I expect him to win the election, more narrowly than he did against McCain, but win it nevertheless.

You heard it here first.

(Incidentally, Dear Reader, in researching this article, your humble scribe spent three hours watching Fox News Channel to be sure he had a suitable amount of GOP content in his head so that the article would be balanced and fair. Greater love hath no man.)

Advertisements
Comments
  1. Richard Ember says:

    Yolly in ‘people will have forgotten conventions in two or three weeks afterwards’ prediction shocker.

    Like

    • *sighs gently* That was Yolly in “GOP’s last great hope for Victory in November probably didn’t happen” shocker, actually. And actually conventions can have lasting effect … remember “Read my lips, no new taxes” for George Bush Snr? There will be no such effect from Tampa.

      Like

  2. Colin Haycock says:

    Nice one, Sunshine.

    Like

  3. Richard Ember says:

    I thought t he Republicans would get buried. But such has been the ineptitude of this Administration, coupled with the fact that people can see that all they have left is a load of mud-slinging, I actually think Romney has a chance. Certainly a far bigger one than he did 6 months ago.

    Like

  4. Richard Ember says:

    I think if the election were in three weeks’ time you would be right. However, November gives a whole extra 6 weeks or so on top of that. Too close to call and I would suggest that he has a better chance than you may care to admit – certainly better than I thought he would have theree months ago.

    Like

  5. […] Of bounces, bumps, polls and dead cats (wellthisiswhatithink.wordpress.com) […]

    Like

  6. mlshatto says:

    This is the latest from 538.com, which is reputed to be one of the most accurate polling aggregators. There’s not much bounce!

    http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/

    Like

  7. jvdix says:

    I think you deserve plenty of strong waters and a bevy of beautiful maidens fanning your fevered brow. Three hours? Good grief.

    Like

  8. rbhexem says:

    How long before the Chinese put pressure on the Feds to disarm US citizens? Or has it already begun?

    Like

  9. […] Of bounces, bumps, polls and dead cats (wellth​i​siswhati​think​.word​press​.com) Share this article: Barack Obama […]

    Like

  10. Peter says:

    An interesting piece….I also think that the debates might help in breaking the ‘impasse’, marginally.

    Like

What do YOU think? That's what matters. Please comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s